Sunday, January 30, 2011

Burn.

I might have just gotten sunburned. I've been sitting on our porch for the last hour. It's 70+ degrees and sunny. And now my face is red. This is a good problem to have. Especially in January.

And that got me thinking how often I've said that statement in the last few days. Greg and I have been discussing a host of things lately and I keep ending up saying: "and that's a problem I'm happy to have." Greg agrees.

So many decisions to make about baby and parenting... from the mundane, to the minor and petty, to some more major, can't-shove-that-one-under-the-rug things. Many changes in life are hopefully going to happen. We all know that change isn't easy. So Greg and I talk about what we are going to do if scenario A comes up, then we laugh and realize we have no idea what we may do if that scenario arrives. And then I say "well, that's a problem I'll be happy to have."

People say babies change everything. They do. My daughter certainly did. And I know my son will, too. There are so many life changes and decisions that we will face when and if he comes into this world alive. And I just want everyone to know that we are happy, beyond happy, to make those changes and decisions. Even if they are hard. Even if it causes issues and problems. We GET to face those.

All those questions young mothers ask, I will finally get to ask and face and wrestle with God about. All those decisions new parents make about how to raise a child, how to have a child sleep and eat and poop right, how to still have a strong marriage while having a baby depending on you, how to afford diapers, how to not have your life revolve around your kids, how to have a kid who you actually want to be around because they are real and hilarious (because you've given them your sense of humor, of course), how to still have single friends and non-kid friends, and as Christians, how to raise a child who loves the Lord and loves others so ridiculously that that's how their known... and the list goes on and on (there is a reason parenting is one of the bestselling book topics). We will be so happy to get to have those problems.

Until then, we are apprehensive about making decisions and preparing for baby's arrival. We aren't ready. And that's okay. We don't have to be yet. What we are, however, is grateful to have this boy now and hoping for an abundance of decisions and changes to come.

-Heather

Also, sunscreen is important. I am not saying getting a sunburn is a good idea. Red-heads need sunscreen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ginormous.

Greg texted me this morning a funny memory he had that caused me to laugh out loud (which I rarely do so shortly after waking up) and I just thought I'd share about it.

Back in June of 2007 we had a little over two days to buy a house here in Columbia. We were totally at the mercy of our realtor (who turned out to be great, thankfully). Greg's parents were with us the day we looked at 15+ houses in a city we knew nothing about.

I wish today-Heather could go back and help then-Heather process what she was experiencing! I had NO idea, really no clue, about so, so many things. It really is by the grace of God our house buying experience turned out so well. Because culturally and geographically, we were clueless!

After we had signed our life away a thousand times and we were back in ND, I remember calling up our mortgage company (Palmetto Mortgage) but not knowing how to correctly pronounce "palmetto" so I said "or however you say it" after I most likely pronounced it incorrectly to the lady. There was an awkward pause.

Looking back, this lady had to of thought I was a complete idiot. SOUTH CAROLINA IS THE PALMETTO STATE. I saw palm, but didn't really know what to do with the etto. Seriously. There are palmetto tree depictions on most everything around here. If you want to name a business just add "Palmetto" before the trade and you've got a name. I'm not sure when I realized what a palmetto tree was, but I'm sure there was a lightbulb over my head at that moment.

Many of the phone calls I made while in ND ended up frustrating for both parties. Most conversations had a lot of the following: "I'm sorry, what was that?" "excuse me?" "huh?" "what did you say" and "can you repeat that?". Because they couldn't understand me in my northern accent and I definitely struggled with deciphering their southern drawl. I remember one conversation I just started laughing because our termite inspector was talking but I had NO idea what he was saying. This was also probably the first time I ever heard "bye" as a three syllable word. Oh then-Heather, this was only the beginning.

I've gotten away from the original make-me-laugh-before-9am story.

One of the 15+ houses we looked at in our marathon day can best be described as the "Ginormous Furniture House". Oh what I wouldn't do for a photo!

This house was so hilariously unique. Someone still lived it in so all their stuff was still in the house. And as we walked from room to room, we were all struck with one thought: the furniture was HUGE. It was a small house, too, but think of the biggest furniture you could by at Rooms To Go smooshed into a three-bedroom 1000 square foot house.

It felt a bit like the scene in Willy Wonka where the room gets really small. Or Goldilocks finding a nap spot. Or a weird space continuum. It felt like the furniture was made for a giant but the house was just a regular house.

We are talking overstuffed couches and end tables, so much so that the front door entrance was blocked because you otherwise couldn't fit in the living room. And a spare room with just a huge couch and a BIG screen TV, the old-school not-flat kind. And the mirrors! They must have weighed a ton because they covered whole walls. The frames were probably 20 inches thick.

But the best was the bedroom. It had one of those four-post canopy beds. But the posts! Oh the posts! Trying to put your arms around one post was like hugging a redwood tree at Yosemite. And I would have needed a 6 ft ladder to actually get into the bed.

Every piece of furniture in every room was overstated and extreme. You could barely walk around because you would hit a piece of something massive. And I recall seeing a few clothes that were normal size so the whole "maybe a really large person lived there" theory was out. Even our realtor was amazed and beyond words.

My MIL had to use the bathroom while there because she was about to pee her pants, it was that funny. In fact, I hope you've gone recently, Mary, as you read this account of our experience!

It was a good memory. I only wish I had photos to prove how outrageous it was. This pales in comparison:

Aren't you glad we didn't buy that house with furniture included? I am. Thus ends the funny story as I have run out of ways to say huge.

-Heather

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bears Fans.

It was a sad day for us Bears fans yesterday. But we took these photos beforehand, so we were still happy. And yes, we are drinking water in our Bears mugs.


Boo Packers!

This shot is for Auntie Amy who wanted a belly shot. Baby boy has definitely grown and grown and therefore, made my belly grow and grow. The maternity pants are now out in full force.

And here's to the anticipation that next year our little guy will be sportin' some serious Bears gear throughout the whole season... all the way to the Superbowl!

I should probably mention here that growing up I did not care one iota about football (or most sports). My sister will contest to that. I recall Sunday afternoons being excellent nap times and to this day, the sound of the MN Vikings announcers sort of makes me sleepy. However, I married into a Bears family and have gotten on board wholeheartedly. Greg has been good to teach me, answer questions, and I can now say with confidence that I know what a safety is.

And now that I will hopefully be raising a boy, this is all going to come in handy. Especially if he's built like Brian Urlacher and decides to play football.

-Heather

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kentucky.

Emily and Molly's momma (see below) and I spent some time together today. I forgot to take a photo of us like I had planned. We both wore vests today that would have made the photo even cuter. Oh well.

We shared a chocolate brownie sundae in honor of Emily and Molly's birthday. It was quite fitting because I'm pretty sure that Maelee got to go to their heavenly party, and today on earth baby boy and I were able to enjoy the some chocolatey goodness in celebration of the girls.

What I didn't tell you before is that Heather is also pregnant with her rainbow baby. She's due in July ... she's around 10 weeks behind me on this baby-after-a-loss-journey. It is a completely unique and hard-to-understand road that we are traveling every day. We are both thankful for each other, to lean on as we venture through this. And you can add that sweet baby to your prayers when praying for our boy. Oh how wonderful it would be if we get to raise our kids together!

And here is the random story that I thought I'd share with you:

After Maelee died, people sent flowers. Really beautiful ones. And thankfully someone else was around to take care of them and make them last and rearrange them (moms are good at that). But the funniest (well, funny now) flowers were the ones that were sent to us in Kentucky.

We got a phone call from a florist in Columbia, Kentucky asking us for our address. Um, well, we live in Columbia, South Carolina. Well they don't deliver here (shocking!) so we didn't ever get the flowers. And they wouldn't tell us who paid for them or sent them. Privacy or something like that.

So to whoever sent us flowers in Kentucky, thank you. I'm sorry you never got an official thank you in the mail ... but we don't know who you are.

I'm sure it was the most beautiful, largest, most expensive flower arrangement known to man kind. And I'm sure this not-helpful, lame, and slightly backwards flower shop in Kentucky enjoyed it for us.

Oh, and for all you Northerners, the sun in Columbia is shining again and I drove around with my windows down all day. Would you like to come visit?

-Heather

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Emily and Molly.

It's raining and dreary outside today and I'm sad. Mainly because Emily and Molly aren't here to celebrate their first birthday with their parents and instead are having one amazing polka-dotted party in heaven. With Maelee in attendance, I'm sure.

Emily and Molly are Heather and Marc's daughters. The girls passed away at 36 weeks, 5 days and were born exactly a year ago on January 18, 2010. I have mentioned my friend Heather before and talked about how grateful I am for our friendship. She's a dear friend I wish I never knew.

Aren't these girls just beautiful?

We miss you, Emily and Molly.

Love,
Maelee's Mom

Friday, January 14, 2011

Good Things.

I don't know if we can say it enough: thank you for sharing in our lives. I know it's hard sharing in our suffering and missing Maelee with us. I know it was hard to read the former post about our scare. I know it's easier to just share in our joy but I wanted to say thanks for sharing in the tough stuff with us, too. Many thanks.

So here's some solidly good things from my day and week:

Today I got out of the house and had lunch with two dear friends. Living in community, sharing our lives together is a treasure. I often get all secluded in my own little no-job, no-kid world that I forget that there are some seriously great people that I could be spending my time with. And lunch dates make both me and baby very happy!

Amanda and I headed to the Fresh Market after and that was another pure warms-my-heart moment. I never go to that side of town so I've only been there a couple times... but man, this place... this place is what I would like to be like if people were described as grocery stores. (Actually it would be Kowalski's but we don't have that here). We couldn't afford to shop/eat there without going broke, but such delights exist there! As in the following treats I bought today:

One loaf of delicious Italian bread that will pair oh-so-well with the homemade chicken noodle soup that is currently simmering to near perfection (I hope) in my hand-me-down big 'ol Le Creuset (thanks mom!). Two Heath Bar Crunch Cookies that surprisingly made it in the photo (I began tasting the bread so that's why they survived to be dessert). One loaf of Pumpkin Nut bread and one loaf of Zucchini Nut bread... they were BOGO and haven't been sampled... yet. And one container of spendy vegetable chips (dried sweet potatoes, beans, zucchini, etc.) that I had a long time ago and have searched for ever since ... and yes, I opened them on the drive home and yes, it was worth the wait.

You are hungry now, eh? You want some starches, dontcha?

Another most blessed thing that I mentioned before was that it snowed this week. It snowed a lot. Greg stayed home Monday. And looking out from our porch Monday, we saw a whole lot of glorious snow:

It did get a little frustrating, being cooped up all week. Normally I wouldn't have thought much about driving in this weather but I did not (and do not) trust these southern drivers on ice. Case in point: a visitor to our neighbors across the street took 10 minutes to leave their house because his car was sliding on the ice and he thought if he just kept pushing the gas pedal harder, he would go. We had a great time watching him spin his wheels. Not very neighborly of us however.

The snow was sort of captured by some ice Monday night which is the real reason for all the cancellations and closings (yes, they didn't have school all week). We've had snow before (this is our fourth winter here) but it never lasts. I took this shot this afternoon of the house (and Gramps, the car):

It's still here! It's melting fast but both Greg and I are overjoyed to have seen snow all week as we are out and about. There is just something therapeutic about seeing snow on the trees, on the side of the road, even when it gets all brown and nasty. It's like a little slice of our life growing up in ND brought down to the armpit of the south, just for us. It's going to go away soon as the forecast is 50s and 60s next week. But I am one happy camper for the week of it!

I've been hanging different outfits of Maelee's in her room... just a few special things that she would be wearing if she were here. It's hard to see them on her dresser or door... but it makes me smile. This is what is hanging on her door now, my mom got it for her last year to wear at Christmas. It's soo girly!

So since most of big sister's things are indeed all girl, we are needing to boy things up. We aren't ready for the room change (that will come sometime in February when my parents come). But I am making steps. The first one was a little retail therapy. Greg's brother got the baby a $50 gift card to amazon for Christmas (to buy boy stuff) but I spent it on a tea pot and a book (for us). So I went out to Once Upon A Child and bought $50 worth of clothes. The best part? They were having a sale so certain items were on sale for $1. I bought 50 items of clothes for $50. Some are brand new! Some were three piece sets for $1! And if he ends up not wearing something, oh well, it cost $1. I did buy sizes from 0-4T so don't worry, I was wise in my choosing.

Here's the loot:

I did realize one thing. I still love brown. And not a huge fan of baby blue and neither is Greg. Also, since I'm not ready to take Maelee's stuff out yet, there is no place for boy's stuff so it's just going to stay there for awhile. That's okay. But I did start some "nesting" and bought a bunch of storage bins. That's another step.

I love organizing. I love organizational supplies. Do you want me to come to your house and organize your closets? I would. I could totally work at The Container Store.

And finally, on my list of solidly good things. Here's our boy from our appointment in December when we learned he was a he. In the cute frame that the Simons sent, too!


Also, a random list of other things I am thankful for at 5:45pm this Friday:
  • Greg coming home from work, ready for a meal and a movie together!
  • My eyesight. The human body is so crazy but the eyes, especially, are a completely creative miracle of God. I think seeing is the best sense and I'm so grateful for having it. Also, modern medicine to fix my nearsightedness.
  • Our library. You can reserve things online, they show up at our library down the street, easy peasy.
  • Martin Luther King Jr Day on Monday. Sadly I'm probably more thankful for a day off for Greg than the man himself... but I am grateful for him and his work, too.
  • JT, our mail man, who comes back to our house in the afternoon if he misses me in the morning to deliver my Norwex packages. That, my friends, is service!
  • The Bears play on Sunday. And I am excited to watch the game. Seriously.
  • The fact both our colds are hopefully going away. After over two weeks of sickness for me, I finally woke up and could breathe at one point last night. To me, that means the end of this is near.
  • Tea. Because of aforementioned colds, we've consumed a crazy amount of decaffeinated tea in the last weeks. And it really is quite soothing. Try some.
I hope that you have many solidly good things in your lives as well, my friends.

-Heather

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Scare.

Yesterday was a scary day for us. And today, thanks to about 4+ inches of snow and some soon freezing rain, Greg and I are in our sweatpants having a peaceful snow day. What a difference one day can make...

It started out with us going back to our home church. For a year and a half or so, we have been part of a new church (started from our home church) in a town about 35 miles away. But we felt it was time to end our season there (tear!) and transition back to our home church. So yesterday was our first Sunday back in about a year. And the last time we were in a service there ... exactly 9 months ago for Maelee's funeral.

I had a feeling it was going to be tough walking into the sanctuary. It was indeed. All the memories of her sweet, gut-wretching funeral came flooding back ... along with some serious tears. I'm glad I have longish hair to cover my face! We came in a bit late so we sat in the back and we left right when the service ended.

But the scary part of our day happened when we got home. I went to the bathroom and I had a little spotting (I'll spare you the details). Spotting during pregnancy is quite normal. However, I never, ever spotted when I was pregnant with Maelee and haven't with this guy, either, until yesterday. Thus, we welcome completely freaked-out pregnant Heather to the story.

Since I find myself too often on the nasty wrong side of percentages out there, my mind can easily go through all the wacked-out possible nightmare scenarios. I knew that it was probably nothing ... but like I've said before, even though we lost Maelee, that doesn't give us a "free ticket" to bring home our next baby happy and healthy. There are no guarantees. We've been asking the Lord to give us this baby boy alive and healthy, but that doesn't mean that God will (painful, hard truth indeed).

I called our doctor's office and explained my situation to the answering service lady. The doctor (not my regular doctor but one of the three in the practice) called back within 5 minutes. After my brief explanation and a few questions, he told me everything was probably just fine but that he could be at the office in 45 minutes if I wanted. He said that about four times. I was about to say, well, as long as I feel baby move today I'll just wait until tomorrow to come in ... but then I looked at Greg and quick decided that would be dumb. So I told the doc we'd be there.

The next 50 minutes were emotional needless to say. We experienced many feelings and worries strikingly similar to some of what we felt as we drove to the doctor on April 5 and into the worst moment of our lives. We both weren't quite as freaked out as we could have been and I'd say that probably was a combo of the Lord giving us peace and the past nine months of wisdom and experience coming into play.

The office was eerily quiet on a Sunday afternoon as we waited for the doctor. We were beyond thankful that he was so willing to come in and ease our anxiety. He found baby boy's heartbeat very quickly. We breathed a big sigh of relief at that glorious sound. He then went on to inspect everything else. And basically he thinks the source of the spotting was just a popped blood vessel. Too much coughing and sneezing the past ten days caused a little vessel to pop and me being on lovenox and baby aspirin makes any little blood flow and flow. I knew there was a reason I hated this blasted cold virus so much!

The words the doctor said as we got ready to leave sum those two hours up quite well: "peace of mind is priceless." I figured it was probably nothing but actually having the doctor tell me everything is fine, and knowing for sure that our boy is alive ... well, I needed that yesterday.

So join us in again thanking God for getting us through a tough moment. And for giving us such a wonderful doctor's practice for this pregnancy... a true blessing.

And to top it all off, I get to have some real snow. Last year we got snow twice and even some in March. In March, I was very preggo and enjoyed making a Heather snowman complete with protruding belly. Sigh. I don't quite have the motivation this year. We are so bummed that Maelee isn't here to wear her very pink and oh-so-cute fluffy snow jacket and go gallivanting in this year's snow. Oh the pictures that would have been!

All that to say, nothing warms my heart like looking out on a winter wonderland. And because South Carolina is not prepared to plow roads or sand/dirt/salt roads (and to be honest, because South Carolinian's can't drive in any amount of snow), Greg is working from home today. I'm about to make some hot chocolate and prepare our meal for tonight (in the likely case our power goes out).

Yes, it's a peaceful SNOW day in the Kasowski household today!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just the Same.

I never got to hold you & bounce you on my lap,
I never got to read to you or watch you as you nap.
You slipped away so quickly, before I said your name.
And yet I want the world to know
I loved you just the same.
-Anne Peterson

Thanks to the Simons for sending us a gift to remember Maelee (with the above quote) and one for baby boy. Very sweet.

Some things that have been hard for me in my new normal life lately:

*arriving at Jazzercise this week and seeing two babies there (not typical) and the baby girl having the exact same car seat toys as Maelee

*seeing 4.6.11 as an expiration date on a bottle of water

*seeing a recent photo of a baby born a week before Maelee... leading me to the many, many questions of "what would she look like now?" and "what would she be doing now?" etc

*shopping for boy clothes at Once Upon A Child and seeing so many of Maelee's outfits there, having to consciously stop looking at girl clothes (it was such a fun habit for so long), trying to wrap my brain around boy clothes (sadly, the reality is they are just not as cute as girl clothes) and realizing how much this apparently matters to me

*having moments of complete panic when my husband innocently asks "have you felt the baby move today?"

*having to let go of 2010... which is "Maelee's year" and embracing 2011 and all that entails (most notably an upcoming baby boy!)

*being grateful when I realize I am in a completely awkward state of "is she pregnant or just a little plump?" and trying to find pants to fit accordingly

*realizing grieving (or any stressor) is harder when you don't feel well and therefore, don't sleep well (probably a main reason for some seriously hard past few days)

*being humbled by the fact that we are just a speck on this earth, a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, and yet my speck of a life matters to God and to a lot of people, too

*realizing it's now been longer since we've been apart from Maelee (nine long months today) than the time that we had with her (in my belly)

-Heather

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our Time in MN.

It was tough, knowing Christmas was not supposed to be like it was. We were supposed to have the best Christmas ever, introducing our almost 9-month old girl to the cold winter Christmas, watching our family interact with our perfect little girl, taking some seriously cute photos in the snow... the list goes on and on.

My family had an idea to light a candle every Christmas in memory of Maelee. So this is the candle we lit on Christmas... and will be lit every Christmas. It's pretty beautiful.

Highlight Reel
We met our niece, Ava Maelee Linn, for the first time. She's three months and looks a lot like her sister did at that age: adorable and chunky.


We had a lot of fun playing and enjoying the antics of 4.5 year old Ali. We had a play day where she went out to eat with Auntie Heather and Uncle Greg and then we went to the Yogi Bear movie (don't see it, it's pretty bad). Much time was also spent with zhu zhu pet fight club, fancy nancy board game, candy land, etc.

The house (yet to be colored) we got for her was most fun when Greg was setting it up...

She especially enjoyed spending time with Super Mr. Uncle Greg.

Some memorable one-liners include:

Greg: "Who is your favorite soccer player?"
Ali: "Myself."

Ali: "Uncle Greg is funny."
Greg: "Maybe I could be a comedian."
Ali: "Na, but you could be a clown!"

Ali and Ava were baptized on the 26th at their church and Greg and I, along with their other aunt and uncle, are their sponsors. What a sweet gift to be able to pray for them, love on them, and teach them about Jesus for many years to come.


The Tysse family, minus Maelee. Ali's eyes are closed, but at least we actually got a group photo!


Me with the girls.

Big highlight was our few hours we had with Greg's parents and brother and our niece, Lilliana. It was great to see them even if it was too short.

Lilli and Ali get along very well and had a blast swimming together. What cute red-headed girls!


And of course, it was a winter wonderland! So even though we missed the snow in Columbia (I know, right?!) it was okay, because we had a lot of it in MN. Greg even tried digging out the fire pit... but alas, we did not end up utilizing the pit on New Years like we had planned. But we did get to spend a day with our good friend, Jaysen!

It was a good, hard Christmas season. And now onto a New Year...

Oh, and baby boy is doing well. Heart rate was a nice solid 145/146 today and all seems well! Loving this little guy so much already.

-Heather